Family Easter Fish Pie

I used a fish pie mix for this pie because I happened to have one ( in the freezer. Actually I had two, so ending up with a kilo of fish, adding raw, peeled prawns and half a dozen scallops. It was Easter. The fish is held in a parsley and hard-boiled egg sauce under a crusty mashed potato topping and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this superior nursery food. My family truly love it. It is the ideal party dish because it can be made up to 24 hours advance but will have to be kept, covered, in the fridge. I have a soft spot for fish pie with peas (frozen petit pois) and The B likes Worcester sauce (Lea and Perrins). Quantities given are generous; any leftovers will reheat perfectly.

Serves 6
Prep: 40 min
Cook: 50 min

1kg diced fish mix; cod or hake, smoked haddock, salmon, in whatever proportion you like
1 litre milk
2 bay leaves
150g butter
400g raw, peeled prawns
6 king scallops, optional treat
75g flour
4 eggs
5 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2kg King Edward potatoes

Heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Lay the fish in an oven dish. Pour 750ml of the milk over the fish to cover it, add the bay leaves and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes so the fish is almost but not quite cooked. Remove the fish to a plate to cool. Strain the milk from the pan and plate into a measuring jug and top up with sufficient water or extra milk to end up with 750ml liquid. Meanwhile boil the eggs for 10 minutes in a small pan of water. Drain, tap all over and peel. Melt 75g butter in a medium pan and stir in the flour until smooth. Gradually incorporate the 750ml roasting milk, stirring constantly as the sauce comes to the boil, giving it a good whisk if it turns lumpy. Reduce the heat immediately and simmer for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife down the inside curl of the prawns and remove the black veins. Add prawns to the hot sauce, stirring as the prawns turn pink. Taste and adjust the seasoning with pepper; it’s unlikely you will need salt. Tip the prawn sauce into a mixing bowl. If using scallops, remove the coral from the scallop, trimming away any ‘skirt’, cutting off the hard bit that attaches scallop to shell, rinse and pat dry. Fold into the mix. Chop the eggs and add them together with the parsley. Stir the fish loosely into the sauce. Spoon the mix into a suitable gratin dish and leave to get cold – this avoids the mash sinking in the middle. Meanwhile, peel, chop, rinse and cook the potatoes in boiling salted water. Drain and mash with sufficient of the remaining milk and butter to make a fluffy but dense mash. Carefully spread the mash over the fish, smooth the surface then fluff with a fork. The cooled pie can be kept on hold in the fridge covered with clingfilm for 24 hours. You will notice the pie sweats and makes the clingfilm damp, so I change it as necessary. To cook, place the dish on a shallow roasting tin and bake now or later for 30-35 minutes until bubbling and golden.